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Old 05-08-2002, 01:18 AM   #1
Ashon
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Well, let's try this a little bit: This is an offshoot of the Monster Generation Thread.

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Of course that's not to say it's a bad idea, but my interest here concerns a central settlement AI which manipulates individuals members of that settlement in a believable social model, providing an opposition "race" rather than a mass of free-roaming individuals.
So in an earlier post you mentioned the system working like SimAnts, where you have a central brain that creates or 'spawns' members of the community based on need. Breeders, workers, warriors, etc... So I began to think (dangerous I know, but a hobby of mine).

Now, this is a three part question: What are some of the requirements (needs) of a self sufficient NPC/Mobile community? What are the roles that are used to fulfill these needs? (Who are the members of the community?) and Lastly, which of these need to be physically represented by the Mud?

Now apply that three part question (or actually three questions) to the following situations:

A settlement just founded.
A settlement growing to be self sufficient.
A settlement under attack by Players (farming, et all)
A settlement under attack by other NPC/Mobiles
A settlement growing beyond a settlement.

How do you craft a system to handle all of these extremities?
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Old 05-08-2002, 04:27 AM   #2
KaVir
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This is how I envision it, although it's only one possible approach:

1. A settlement just founded.

It simply appears - "spawns" - somewhere on the map. It could be founded by a group of settlers who have left a previous settlement, or just appear naturally (perhaps if the number of settlements in the mud has dropped below a certain amount), but in the latter case it should appear somewhere where nobody has been for a while. It would initially consist of only a handful of people and perhaps a few huts.

2. A settlement growing to be self sufficient.

Each settlement would have a number of resources (perhaps "wood", "food", "stone", "iron" and "money"?). These resources could be increased through various methods - however a self-sufficient settlement would (at least initially) have to send workers out to collect them. Note that a successful settlement would almost never be self-sufficient, but would rely on trade with other settlements (although the actual action of "trading" could be assumed, by building wagons or trading ships, rather than actually simulated).

3. A settlement under attack by Players (farming, et all)

A settlement would be able to produce various things for different resource costs (and for people, upkeep costs). A "bakery" for example might provide a small food income, a "goldsmith" might produce a gold income, and so on. There would also be things like watchtowers (to improve the defence of the settlement) and barracks (for training citizens into soldiers), although each of these would take up space within the settlement.

So to answer your question, a settlement which came under heavy attack would start funneling more of its resources into producing extra troops, rather than into expanding - and eventually it might start cannibalising itself (destroying unnecessary buildings to make space for more military stuff, training workers into warriors, and so on). I'm thinking of some sort of combination of Monarchy, Age of Empires and Kohan.

4. A settlement under attack by other NPC/Mobiles

This would work in much the same way as with players, although it would probably be less common - skirmishes might well occur from time to time, but unless the settlements are blocking each other from expanding (or you've got some sort of "racial hatred" coded) it probably won't be profitable enough to be worthwhile.

5. A settlement growing beyond a settlement.

I envision that, similar to many RTS games, in order to advance to the next "stage", certain requirements would first have to be met. This would generally revolve around having reached a certain population level and having built a specified number of buildings of specified types. You could then have "ranks" for each settlement, ranging from "hamlet" to "city" (although if new settlements can later be built, it might be possible to build an entire empire).

Remember, it doesn't have to do more than provide a rough simulation internally, as long as it looks good to the players externally.
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Old 05-08-2002, 01:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Note that a successful settlement would almost never be self-sufficient, but would rely on trade with other settlements (although the actual action of "trading" could be assumed, by building wagons or trading ships, rather than actually simulated).
Of course, what I meant by self-sufficient was that it was relying upon it's own methods to grow and expand rather then on the shall we say intervention (IE Dropping a 'Settlement here item, or whatever...). This would be the point at which the AI would take over.

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Remember, it doesn't have to do more than provide a rough simulation internally, as long as it looks good to the players externally.
This was truly the heart of the question: at what point do we have to show the players the simulation? What are the evident signs of the ai algorithm?

You obviously need the settlement. The houses, the shops, the roads, and the defenses showing. These are then part of the landscape of the settlement. But do you need peons? Do you need a mob that carries a hammer and builds? Or do you need a mobile in the fields harvesting? Of course these things add flavor, and they make for a more interesting setting but are they needed? Probably not. They can be implied.

I'm going to assume that we do generate the mobiles/npcs and run down another thought...

1) Do the NPCs report back to the Hive AI and let it know what is going on? NPC: MsgToHive-Harvested 12 Grain- Hive: MsgToNPC- go sleep-

2) or do we just let the hive do all the mathmatics, HIVE: I'm physically representing 10 Harvest NPC's they are 1/10 of the population, each harvest 12 grains a mud day, I now have 1200 grains. Increase population.
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Old 05-08-2002, 05:32 PM   #4
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It is my belief that if you're going to implement a system like this that the workers (peons, whatever) that you mention are, in fact, needed.

Certainly we can just make these things implied and fire off messages in the settlement vicinity to make it appear as though they exist. What happens, though, when the player wants to kill some of the workers? Or stop an enemy settlement from growing by killing off the builders?

Player A is a nasty murdering thief. Wouldn't it be more fun for Player A to actually have, say, a mobile that has spent the better part of its day collecting gold walking with a couple buddies down the road home. Player A jumps out, manages to strike 2 or maybe all of the workers down, and runs off with the loot. The settlement grows suspicious of where their workers are disappearing to, or maybe the one worker reports what has happened, and guards or hired mercenaries get sent out for protection. None of that would be possible in a setting where the mobiles, gathering, building, etc are implied.

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Old 05-08-2002, 07:00 PM   #5
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If you're going to want to have it be believable to the players externally, then you're going to need those internally unnecessary mobiles - the workers building a structure (be it a house, shop, smithy, palisade, guard tower, etc.), others collecting raw materials (wood, iron, stone, etc.) from a nearby stand of trees/forest/mine or buying them from a merchant, farmers out in the fields, ploughing and sowing seed (to collect grain), etc. Situations as Lotius described (folks coming back to their settlement, getting ambushed by a thief, reporting it, militia/guard presence increases) would be far more interesting and fun to have than just an internal reporting to the hive mind.

The RTS comparison KaVir made is exactly what I envisioned when I read the initial post (actually, the StarCraft Zerg came right into my mind when I saw "hive AI"). If you do have access to a game such as Age of Empires, watch the computer player built its settlement. The AoE AI is geared towards making its empire richer, stronger and well-defended. It's been a while since I've played, but I think it does it in roughly that order (collect raw materials, establish a guard presence, build walls and towers). It is more warlike than you'll probably need, though.
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Old 05-08-2002, 08:11 PM   #6
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Hey ho. I haven't posted here before, but I've been lurking for quite some time and I'm really interested in this idea. My two and a half cents:

A settlement just founded.
Instead of having a settlement just appear out of thin air, you could have a super-rare "settler" mob spawn randomly after a game reset if the game determines that there aren't enough settlements currently active. He would roam around the game world for a little bit, find a place where players haven't been for awhile, and create a town- spawning a couple of mobs, a few basic buildings, and some inital resources. The wander time would give players a chance to kill the mob before it gets things going, making settlements a little more rare.

A settlement growing to be self sufficient.
Settlements would be able to get certian resources based on the room types in which it covers as well as the surrounding terrain. For instance, a mountain settlement would have an easy time getting metals and perhaps lumber, but they would have a tough time getting enough food to feed themselves. The settlements can then send out trading mobs to buy and sell goods with other settlements and perhaps the main towns and cities of the game.

A settlement under attack by Players (farming, et all)
Settlements under attack might be able to send out a signal for help- perhaps a smoke signal or a magic spell or something of that nature. There would be a slim chance that passing mobs of the same or sympathetic race to the inhabitants of the settlement would come to their aid. Imagine trying to farm a relatively weak town only to see a band of powerful orcish raiders jump out of the woods behind you!

Also, settlements may be able to ally with other settlements. They could agree to share raiding parties or something of that sort through specialized "diplomat" mobiles.

A settlement under attack by other NPC/Mobiles
Pretty much the same thing as above, though I don't imagine much could come from it.

A settlement growing beyond a settlement.
This might be based on certian RP developments in the game and have to be set by immortals, or perhaps a settlement could attain "city" or "kingdom" status when it reaches a certian size.

After getting to be a certain size, the settlement will be able to spawn "settler" mobs of its own after resets (again, rare), which will set off a short distance from the town and begin a small settlement, smaller than the main town was when it first started. This town would be automatically allied with the first, and so on. Eventually, mob-run kingdoms could spring up. This would have to be severely limited, though, to prevent a huge number of mob towns from springing up everywhere.

Really, this would be best in a game that uses ASCII mapping or hexes, to prevent areas with a lot of effort put into them from being stamped over by stock rooms descs. It would also add a real sense of scale to the settlements- little blobs of text growing to huge blobs over time!
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Old 05-09-2002, 02:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
If you're going to want to have it be believable to the players externally, then you're going to need those internally unnecessary mobiles - the workers building a structure (be it a house, shop, smithy, palisade, guard tower, etc.), others collecting raw materials (wood, iron, stone, etc.) from a nearby stand of trees/forest/mine or buying them from a merchant, farmers out in the fields, ploughing and sowing seed (to collect grain), etc. Situations as Lotius described (folks coming back to their settlement, getting ambushed by a thief, reporting it, militia/guard presence increases) would be far more interesting and fun to have than just an internal reporting to the hive mind.
The consensus seems to be to represent these workers, but how many of them do you need to represent? I know the memory footprint for a mobiles is low, but if you are going to simulate settlements (a lot of them) you need to begin to think about this. Especially when you have other memory intensive systems. Yes having a bar (The Grinning Goblin) full of drunk goblin workers would be funny (the first time) but it's too much.

Here's what I've been thinking about, a system in design. Our room system describes the room, and the activities happening in it, the objects in it. If you want to interact / kill someone in the room, the system will automatically spawn a mobile for you to interact with, and then it'll 'fade' back into the background. *ponders*
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Old 05-09-2002, 04:28 PM   #8
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I'm certainly not a coder, and it's possible I don't quite understand the depth at which you're talking, but why not just have a singular AI that calculates everything, if you're looking for saving memory/cycles? Very similar to what Ashon is suggesting, methinks. Rather than the central brain spawning complex-AI communities that know how to run themselves, just have the central AI make a mark that they're there.  When an active player enters the zone where this community is, the overlying AI immediately knows what should be in the zone (since it's running all the NPC's in its prog whether or not there's someone to hear that particular tree fall in the forest ), and places the appropriate NPCs doing the appropriate task in there. Whatever the player does doesn't echo back to any localized database, but back to the main one, and the prog does all the adjustments you guys are talking about. As soon as the player leaves, all mobs cease (in a number of active mobs in a room sense) to exist.

Now it's very possible you're already saying this and I'm just slow, in which case, I agree...with your point, that is, not that I'm slow.
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Old 05-09-2002, 06:22 PM   #9
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Wik is correct - there's no reason why you can't just keep a rough idea of which mobs are doing what (eg 10 lumberjacks are out chopping down trees) and then provide a random chance of encountering one of them in your travels. Killing that mob would then decrement the number of lumberjacks, while if you ignored it and walked on it would eventually just vanish.

The other alternative, if you wanted to really be accurate in your simulation, would be to have a list of very basic "mob group" structures which could (for example) contain the vnum of the mob, the number of instances of that mob, and it's coordinate location. If a player moved to the specified location, the mud would quickly create the mob (or group of mobs) and place them in the room. If you wanted the mobs to be more persistant (perhaps with each having their own name and description) you could drop the "number of" and just use that mobs unique ID along with its coordinate location - load it into memory if there is a player in the room, save and destroy it when the last player leaves the room.

When two NPC settlements fight and there are no PC witnesses, you wouldn't need to really spawn any mobs at all - you could just perform a quick calculation to decide which side wins the fight. Once again if you wanted to add more detail you could have each fight take a certain period of time - so that players might have a chance of walking in on the middle of a fight.
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Old 04-30-2003, 02:44 AM   #10
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Not to sound wierd or anything, but what does the poll have to do with the subject matter?
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Old 04-30-2003, 07:02 AM   #11
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Nothing - it's a bug. The poll was from another post (in fact, this has happened on a number of the older threads).
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Old 05-01-2003, 05:37 PM   #12
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This entire concept excites me. I would love to be able to attempt to destroy starting civilizations with my pet dragon, only to see his flames distinguished by the local fire dept or water wizard...


Please excuse my love for pillaging and looting, but I just think this idea is very exciting.
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